Contemporary Pattern · Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Pattern

The wacky print modern dress

Just a quick post tonight before I head out the door! So, I finished this new dress yesterday, and I think I started on it the day before that. I just needed an easy project that I knew would go together after the struggles I had with what eventually became the red taffeta circle skirt. And, yes, an “easy” project for me means a dress with a lined bodice and gathered skirt. 😉

Red shoes!

I used my modified version of Butterick 4443 (one of my favorite bodice patterns ever).  It’s the same pattern I used for the Jenny in Paris dress, and Rachel Berry halloween dress. I just love having a go-to pattern that I know will fit (I’m sure you all feel the same!).

This project was another stash buster, with the fabric, zipper, and thread all coming from the stash. It’s nice to see the stash start to get smaller, albeit slowly. 😉 And it’s especially nice to finally have used this fabric! I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes I just can’t cut into a piece of fabric because I have so many projects I want to make with it, but I have a limited quantity of the stuff, so I have to decide on one project. Which can be incredibly difficult. 😉

Anyways, I’m wearing this dress tonight for a Project Runway party I’m going to! To tell you the truth, I’ve been a bit underwhelmed by the designers this season, although I’m not ashamed to admit that I love the drama. 😉

What about you, readers? Any fellow Project Runway fans out there? Anybody working on a stash busting project?

1960s · Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Vintage · Vintage Saturday

And so I wore a red shirtdress instead

This past weekend was my college graduation party, and I’m still recovering from all the fabulous-ness!

As you recall, I had planned on making a fabulous red silk party dress. However, instead I wore the red shirtdress I made for my 21st birthday last year (but never blogged about). I realized the morning of the party while doing all the food prep that a) I wasn’t going to have time to finish the dress and b) even if I did, I would be freezing in a sleeveless dress in overcast, rainy Washington weather. Because, of course, a garden party in Washington state involves cloudy and overcast weather. 😉

Old photo from my 21st birthday, when I was 6 months younger . . .

Anyways, this shirtdress is made out of a stretch red cotton poplin, with the buttons being ones that I took off a shirt that my mom used to wear when I was a kid (don’t worry, she gave me the shirt to take the buttons off of! I didn’t start hacking away at things in her closet). This is the third shirtdress I’ve made (the other two being very vintage-inspired with either floral prints or polka dots), and I use a very heavily modified version of (the now out-of-print) McCalls 2094 for the top, and then just drafted my own skirt. Though I’m not participating in Sunni’s fabulous shirtdress sewalong, I am eager to try the pattern that they are using, Simplicity 1880. Although, I have to admit that being the lazy seamstress that I am, having a shirtdress pattern that I already know fits me is very tempting, in that I’m not sure I want to go through the hassle of making a muslin for another pattern.


I also paired the shirtdress with my new black and white gingham slippers (with red polka dot bows!) that I recently got from my favorite Polish auntie! She wears these slippers all the time, especially in the kitchen when she cooks (she’s a fabulous cook, btw) and I just had to have a pair. Luckily, she bought two pairs of them, and since my sister didn’t want the other (yay!) I now have a second pair for when this pair wears out.

As usual, I made way too much food and now have a ton of leftovers. Silly me forgot to take a picture of the whole food set-up, but here were my two favorite things I made.

A fruit tart, cobbled together from many different Martha Stewart recipes . . . .

. . . .  and fruit tartlets! I put them on this super chic stand (originally designed for cupcakes) that I got from Michael’s for a really good price. Of course, the tartlet shells kept breaking when I went to go fill them, so I didn’t have quite as many as I wanted for the stand, so I just topped it with organic strawberries from my mom’s garden and nobody really complained. 😉

Anyways, it was a really great party (if I do say so myself!) and it was lovely to see so many old friends and catch up! I got some super awesome gifts, and I’m just humbled to have such kind and generous people in my life who took time out of their busy lives to help me celebrate such a momentous occasion.

Commission · Contemporary Pattern · Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing

Commission: The “Wing It On” Dress Knockoff

A happy customer means a happy seamstress!

Hello, everyone! I thought I would share photos of my latest finished project, a commission dress! The dress is part of an exchange that I’m doing with my dear friend, Lauren.* Lauren has her own photography business, and in exchange for her taking some professional photos of me and my sewn garments for my portfolio, I made her a custom dress, which she wore to her graduation party this past weekend!

Love the shoes!

Anyways, the dress is a knock-off of this one from ModCloth. Lauren specially ordered printed cotton poplin fabric from Spoonflower, and I love the black and white together combined with the red nails! 😉

I used Simplicity 2588 as the base, but heavily altered it in order to get the open back (which involved making a waistband for the dress) and made a gathered rather than pleated skirt. Besides the design changes I made myself, the pattern was pretty straightorward except for the neck yoke! I messed it up both on the mock-up and the final one. Suffice it to say, if you ever make this pattern, the instructions should be read very carefully before constructing the yoke!

The Spoonflower fabric came with this neat label, so of course I had to put it in!

Since I don’t have a serger, I used my favorite seam finishing technique of stitching 1/4″ into the seam and then pinking the raw edges.

Speaking of graduation, I feel like I’m in an odd state of limbo since finishing college last week (and thank you everyone for your well wishes on my last post about that!). I’ve moved back home for the time being (and I never really realized how much crap I have!) and am still looking for work (everything that they say about the recession and college grads is true), although I just got a call last week about an interview for a really neat summer job that would involve costumes and history! I’m not going to say anything more than that since I don’t want to jinx it, but please keep your fingers crossed! But for now, I’m just sort of content to nap, sew, and read for fun. Being a bum is quite enjoyable, although I’m sure I’ll get bored of it very quickly. 😉


*Note: All photos of Lauren in the dress are courtesy of Lauren herself, and my sincerest thanks to her for letting me post them here!

1850s · Commission · Contemporary Pattern · Modern Sewing

Weekend: dress toile, concert, and dyeing fabric for the first time!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend, readers! I had quite a busy and productive weekend, and I thought I would share some of the highlights with you all!

The red zipper is there because I didn't have a white one that was long enough. Oh, and red and white are Polish flag colors. 😉

 First up is the toile for the ‘Wing it On” dress commission that I’m working on! I used Simplicity 2588 as the base, and except for taking in a little excess at the waist, it fits! I’ll probably do a gathered rather than a pleated skirt on the final version, tho.

After the dress fitting (and subsequent little dinner party I threw together) I headed downtown with some of my closest friends to see Ingrid Michaelson play! Readers, she was amazing live. Incredibly funny, witty, and talented. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any really good photos (our seats were up on the balcony), but luckily somebody on Youtube has kindly uploaded one of her songs from last night, and you can view it here.

Finally, I dyed some fabric for the first time today! I’m working on a collar reproduction for the exhibit that opens this week, and the collar needs to be black, but the vintage tatting that I used was white, so I decided to construct the whole thing in white and then dye it. Anyways, I got the white collar done . . . .

. . . . and then dyed it and it came out dark purple!

Not quite the color I was going for . . .

I used Rit and still have half the package left, so I think I’m going to re-dye it (but probably use more salt this time). Dyeing fabric is an interesting process, made more so when you have OCD tendencies like I do. 😉 I made sure to wear gloves and used the trash-bag-in-the-plastic-tub method (thanks, Poject Runway for that one!), but every time I turned the sink on to add more water to the dye bath (I put the tub in the sink), the black dye water would splatter, and I would get freaked out about it staining the porcelain sink since the sink is part of the apartment I rent, so I had to take off my dye-soaked yellow glove and get a paper towel and blot the splatches away. Anyways, it turns out that powdered Comet is excellent at getting out dye stains from porcelain. 😉

Alright, off to get myself ready for tomorrow before Mad Men comes on! Have a nice evening, everyone!

1960s · Contemporary Pattern · Dress · Finished! · Modern Sewing · Vintage

The sheer-yoked Macaron and pineapple upside-down cake

Hard to believe we’re already in the middle of the week, readers! I meant to get this post up earlier, but the last few days have been a bit crazy for me, with both my museum internship and starting my last quarter as a college student (which has been scary, nerve-wrecking, and bittersweet all at the same time).

Anyways, Sunday was the much-anticipated Season 5 premiere of Mad Men, and I held a little cocktail party to celebrate! Of course, I had to have a new frock, and so I wore the one that I whipped up during spring break, using the Macaron pattern from Colette Patterns. I made several design changes, most notably omitting the sleeves (I did a bias facing along the armholes instead) and using a sheer lace fabric for the yoke. The rest of the body of the dress was made of a stretch black cotton sateen.

I really loved working with this pattern, it was really easy to sew up, and I love the pockets that are put incorporated into the pleats.

Back of the dress and view of the keyhole neckline, which closes with a snap and allows the dress to go on easier without tugging at the lace.

I definitely wanted to go with a more mid to late 60s feel with this dress, but also have a modern take on it as well, and so the Macaron was perfect for that. I also used this hair tutorial from the fabulous Casey of Elegant Musings to make a 60s-inspired chignon, and though it took a little fiddling at first, I was so pleased by the results at the end that I didn’t want to take my hair pins out when the party was over!

Speaking of the party, I mulled over the menu quite a bit, but in the end chose to make an Old-Fashioned Chicken Fricassee, which was delicious, albeit a little spicy.

Pineapple upside-down cake! Complete with my vintage 1950s white sheer apron.

I also made one of my favorite desserts, pineapple upside-down cake, using this recipe and substituting pecans for cherries in the center of the pineapple pieces. Readers, it was *so* delicious, and if you can get over the high sugar and fat content, I would highly recommend making one yourself (although butter does make everything better, doesn’t it?). In fact, it was so good that I made two (one for my party on Sunday, and another for the museum staff at my internship on Tuesday).

Anyways, I’ll be putting modern and vintage sewing on hold for a bit, as I have several 1850s projects I need to work on. Oh, and the Titanic tea is like in 2 weeks, and I’ve only made a petticoat. So, hopefully I can get a good start on the rest of my Edwardian stuff this weekend.

Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Modern Sewing

The skirt that *so* did not want to be made (aka Simplicity 2512)

Hope everyone (at least in the US) enjoyed their long weekend! I used the time to finish up some lingering sewing projects and get caught up on homework.

Speaking of lingering sewing projects, not only did I finally make a new pillowcase for the pillow on my couch, I also finished Simplicity 2512! The pattern was designed by Cynthia Rowley (who’s guest judging on Project Runway All-Stars this season) and while it was pretty straight-forward, for some reason I just had so many issues finishing it. First, I bought the wrong color zipper (should have gone with black since the fabric is such a dark grey, but I digress), then I had to wait to go back to my parents’ house to pick up the hem tape for the hem since I ran out of fabric (the skirt is made out of Pendleton wool remnants) to make more bias binding, then I had issues sewing in the invisible zipper, because for some reason I kept sewing on the teeth and then had to rip those stitches out. But, it’s finally done!

You can’t tell from the photos, but the waistband is a bit too loose (although it keeps the skirt up just fine). And I don’t know if I entirely like the shape. it’s not quite a full-gathered skirt, but not quite a pencil skirt (even though it does have the vent in the back), so it makes my hips look a bit bigger than they really are (which is why I omitted sewing in the pockets – self sewn-in pockets on my skirts always have a tendency to make my hips appear wider than they are).

Anyways, despite the challenges posed and uncertainty about the shape, I’m glad to have this project done and a new modern skirt in my closet. It’s been so rainy here lately, so I haven’t had a chance to wear it outside just yet, but I’m hoping to soon.

In the meantime, I’m totally in a period underpinnings sewing phase right now, and am working on my first Edwardian petticoat! Speaking of which, I’ve decided to write a post about all the costuming resources I’ve found as of late on Edwardian and early teens clothing (I’ve been researching this stuff like a mad woman!) and hope to have that up on Thursday. 🙂

Contemporary Pattern · Finished! · Modern Sewing

The “commuter chic” bag

Well, it’s finished! I’ve been wanting something bigger than my current tote for school and smaller than my backpack for use when I commute home during the week for my internship (and sometimes during the weekend, as well). Enter Simplicity 2685, which went together like a charm.

The bag! With a big ol' button on the outside.

I used a printed cotton twill for the outside in yellow and grey (which is easily becoming one of my new favorite color combinations, thanks to all the fabulous outfits Emma Pillsbury wears with these colors) and a plain cotton canvas for the lining on the inside.

A few notes about the pattern: while the tucks on both sides are time-consuming, I really like the effect they give. Also, I omitted interfacing the lining (cotton canvas is sturdy enough, in my opinion) as well as including the zipper pocket, as I didn’t have a zipper in the right color or size for the bag. Not that I would have included it if I have. Sewing pockets (at least for me) if they’re not patch pockets are more trouble than they’re worth.

Oh, as for the snow, that’s finally starting to melt and luckily there’s been no flooding here. Or power outages, although our internet has been on the fritz the past couple days. It seems to be working now, so hopefully it will stay that way, as I really do have homework. Although sometimes you do need to take a break and read Handmade Ryan Gosling to stay sane. 😉

Have a great week, everyone!